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Airdrie rainbow crosswalk tarred and feathered just one week after being vandalized with slurs

Last weekend, residents of Airdrie discovered that the town's rainbow crosswalk had been vandalized with anti-gay slurs.

Community just finished removing anti-gay graffiti from last weekend

A rainbow pathway in Airdrie, Alberta was tarred and feathered sometime over the past 24 hours — the second time the pathway has seen vandalism in the past two weeks. (Elizabeth Ogston)

Last weekend, residents of Airdrie, Alta., discovered that the town's rainbow crosswalk had been vandalized with anti-gay slurs.

Members of Airdrie Pride, along with members of the community, responded to that act of hate by repainting the pathway.

But this morning the group was "horrified and heartbroken" to see the pathway vandalized a second time — this time, tarred and feathered.

"Just when we think we can move ahead with our lives and be who we are, we get a reminder that our province is really not ready to be open-minded and accepting of all of the individuals who live here," said Tammy Plunkett with Airdrie Pride.

A rainbow pride walkway in the community was vandalized with tar and feathers. 0:28

A resident had discovered black tar spread out across a large area of the colourful rainbow pathway, with feathers poured on top of it.

"It's not completely covered but enough that it's ugly," Plunkett said. "And it looks like it's going to be very difficult to take off."

Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown said the city would work with the RCMP to determine who might have been involved.

"Words [come to mind] like sad, disappointed, pathetic. Just really angry, actually," Brown said. "I'm kind of in awe that there's a person or people who take the time to have those actions. It's really pathetic."

RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Teri-Ann Bakker said police were seeking the public's assistance to identify those involved.

"The RCMP takes the offences very seriously, and they are working with the community to do what they can do to help restore the pathway," Bakker said. 

First instance

Last weekend, Plunkett said Nose Creek Park saw a variety of racist and anti-gay slurs spray painted on pathways and on the rainbow.

Airdrie Pride had already planned to repaint the pathway in the coming weeks but moved the timeline up to remove the graffiti.

Some of the racist and anti-gay graffiti spraypainted on the Airdrie pride pathway last weekend. (Airdrie Pride)

"To me, for it to happen again so soon, is clearly somebody wanting to put a message out there. This is purposeful, this is very purposeful," Plunkett said. 

"To have it happen in succession like that is heartbreaking, and it makes us afraid to be proud and loud in the community now, because, what's next?"

Anyone with surveillance footage, camera recordings or who witnessed suspicious activity near Nose Creek Regional Park between 3 pm. June 19 to 11 a.m. June 20, or between 10 p.m. June 26 and 11 a.m. June 27 is asked to contact Airdrie RCMP.

"The RCMP is mandated to enhance public safety, which includes investigating and prosecuting those who commit acts such as these, ensuring citizens feel welcome and safe in their community. The community of Airdrie and the RCMP will be working together to take the necessary actions required to restore the pathway," an emailed release from RCMP read.

The incident isn't the first hateful occurrence in Alberta's history directed toward pride organizations. In 2017, a pride flag in Taber, Alta., was shredded and later burned.

Calgary's pride crosswalk was also vandalized twice last year with hateful speech. Airdrie is located just north of Calgary.

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